Nokia e71 review

November 12th, 2008

Here’s my review of the metal clad Nokia E71. Nokia’s update to their e61i.

Build quality is excellent. Much of the body is made of metal along with the battery cover. The battery cover clips on (instead of sliding on) and it fits very tightly. The finish is chrome and is an absolute fingerprint magnet. It didn’t bother me (except when I was taking pictures of the e71) but some may not like that. All in all, the e71 feels a lot more expensive than its competitors.

Along with the nice metal body Nokia includes a very nice leather pouch. The pouch is thin so it maintains the e71′s sleek profile.

The keyboard has a pretty good feel and the buttons stick out.

It is however a lot narrower than say a Blackberry Bold or Motorola Q9h – width wise it’s more similar to a Treo. Personally I like typing on wider keyboards but at the same time I prefer carrying around a more narrow one. I also like how it’s easier for me to use a narrower keyboard with one hand. Plus a narrower keyboard makes the e71 easier to hold when I’m using it as a phone. I guess the narrow width has it’s pros and cons, and for me, they’re a wash.

As far as the layout, I don’t have any complaints about the e71′s keyboard. I like the space bar size. The number keys are directly above the space bar which makes dialing numbers slightly easier.

Besides being more narrow, the e71 is also pretty thin, though, really I wouldn’t consider the Bold or the Q9h to be thick.

There are 3 buttons on the right side plus a 2.5mm headset jack – I wish Nokia had put a 3.5mm headphone jack in instead.

There is an infrared port on the left (do people who can afford an e71 still use those?) along with a micro USB connector and micro SDHC slot. The usb and SD card slots have covers which feel like buttons. Shamefully you can’t use the micro USB slot for charging.

There’s a Nokia charging connector at the bottom.

On top is the mono speaker and a power button.

There is a 3.2megapixel autofocus camera on the back with a built-in LED flash and self portrait mirror.

There is one shortcut key to the left of and two to the right of the nav pad. Each button can have 2 functions; you can press it for one function or press and hold it for the other – useful.

The button with the house has the same function as the menu button on other s60 devices. You can press it to bring you back to the home screen or press and hold it to bring up the task switcher.

The screen is nice and bright. It has a resolution of 320×240 which trails the Blackberry Bold’s 480×360.

Features:

The standby screen has a work mode, which by default displays a list of program shortcuts. It also shows a link to your email (including the number of new messages), calendar (including the number of calendar items due today) and the to do list (including the number of outstanding items).

There is also a personal mode which removes the email, calendar and to do list information and has a different set of program shortcuts. This is nice if you’re trying to separate work and home.

The email program supports POP3, IMAP4 and MS exchange. While I didn’t test it, Exchange support pushes emails to your device.

The e71 will search your phonebook if you start typing/dialing from the standby screen. Microsoft Smartphone (now called Windows Mobile Personal) and Blackberries have had this feature for a while.

The phonebook can sync with your computer using Nokia PC Suite. You can also sync it with Ovi (along with your calendar, todo list and a bunch of other stuff) – useful if you’re switching to a different Nokia phone and don’t want to use a computer.

The E series phones are targeted towards business users. Nokia includes VPN software (I didn’t test it because my OpenVPN setup isn’t compatible).

Also loaded is PTT (push to talk), SIP (voip), Instant messaging software.

The SIP works fine. If you’re about to make a call you can press the talk button to phone using the mobile network or you can press in on the navpad to choose to make a SIP call instead.

If you’re setting the SIP client up and can’t get it to work try using this ########@yourprovider.com where the #’s is your username and yourprovider is the address of your SIP provider.

With the built-in Search app, you can search many of the built-in programs as well as the internet for stuff. Music, content, calendar,  messages, email, bookmarks, images, videos, applications, notes, landmarks and active notes.

You get a version of QuickOffice that allows you to create documents on the device. Often times you only get a version that lets you view documents.

There is a useful converter program which can convert weight, volume, distance, etc.

Active Notes is a note taking application where you can insert pictures, video, sound, internet bookmarks, business cards and files into notes. You can insert pics from your phone or take a new one with the camera.

You can even link a note to a phonebook entry so that whenever you call that number, the note will pop up (so you can take notes about the call). Very very smart!

I don’t think Active Notes sync with your computer.

There’s also a regular note application which does sync with your computer (and lacks Active Notes’ cool features).

There is a dictionary program which lets you look words up in other languages and can translate them. You can go online (on the e71) and download dictionaries. Besides showing you the definition of a word it can also read it out to you – sorry people, I didn’t bother trying to see if it would translate swear words.

A word of note though; if you download a dictionary who’s language is NOT supported by the e71 then you’re out of luck. For example, my e71 supports English, French and Spanish – so when I downloaded a Japanese dictionary it just shows squares instead of the characters.

You can read PDF files with the included Acrobat reader. I didn’t find it to be as good as the PDF reader on the Bold. The Bold has a text only mode which makes reading a lot of PDF’s much easier.

There is an option to encrypt the main memory as well as the memory card. To be honest I’m not 100% sure what it does exactly (Besides encrypt things). I encrypted my memory card and put a password on it. When I turned my e71 off/on it didn’t prompt me for a password. When I stuck the card in my computer however the computer couldn’t read it.

The e71 has a voice aid feature which can read certain things to you. It has a sort of sub menu of features which are voice enabled (not all of the e71′s functionality is). It can do stuff like read your messages, read out numbers as you dial them, read out your phonebook. To be honest when I first tried it (when the e71 was fresh out of the box) it worked, later, after everything was setup I tried to get it to read my messages and I got a ran out of memory message.

The music player is similar to the one you’ll find on say the n95. Like most music players you can sort your music by artist, album, genre, etc. You can also view most frequently listened to songs. There is a shortcut to the music player on the standby screen if it’s in personal mode.

Like I mentioned before, there’s no 3.5 mm headphone jack, just a 2.5mm headset jack so you’ll need to find an adapter if you want to use ‘regular’ headphones.

The built-in speaker has adequate volume but it doesn’t sound particularly good.

The camera has a resolution of 3.2 megapixels with a LED flash and self portrait mirror. I’m a little surprised that the e71 doesn’t have a dedicated camera button on the side (most phones have this). To take a picture you press in on the navpad. This is slightly confusing because this button is also used to change camera settings. So, if you change a camera setting and want to take a pic it’s not as intuitive.

Picture quality isn’t that great – I was expecting more after using a Nokia n95 and n95 8GB a lot recently. Despite it’s autofocus I didn’t find pictures to be particularly sharp, they’re also noisier than I expected and the colour was usually off slightly. Still, compared to other camera phones, the e71 is about average.

You can look at your pictures using the gallery app. It’s not the same snazzy gallery app you get on other s60 devices. The one on the e71 is functional but you can only see 3 pictures at a time instead of many more.

Nokia Maps is included. It’s a mapping program that lets you look up POI and addresses for free plus there is free access to maps. You have to pay extra if you want navigation (walking and driving navigation).

Most free mapping programs let you download maps as you need them. What makes Nokia Maps special besides downloading the maps as you need them, you can also hook the e71 up to your computer and download maps so you can save money on data charges. In case you’re wondering, maps for the entire world take up about 3.2GB of space while Canada is 161MB and the US is 896MB. If you’re tight on space, you can choose to only download individual provinces or states; New York is 46MB – very useful.

Browsing is handled by the S60 browser. The S60 browser is one of the better browsers out there. It doesn’t use a proxy so when you view a page, the e71 downloads the entire page.

I did find that the e71 would sometimes close the browser if I switched to a different program to save memory. That really irritated me when it happened. It also seemed to crash a little more than it did on my Nokia n95 8GB.

You also get; podcasting app, radio, voice recognition and a voice recorder.

Performance:

Incoming sound quality is quite good; aside from a slight background hiss (it’s barely noticeable) the e71  is clear and neutral. The e71′s taper sides make it easy to hold in your hand.

Outgoing sound quality is also very good, the microphone is pretty sensitive so you don’t have to talk very loud on it.

Maximum earpiece volume is adequate. The speakerphone isn’t very good. While loud enough it sounds kind of muffled.

RF performance is generally good but I found that it would fluctuate a lot at times – sometimes it would drop down to EDGE from HSDPA for seemingly no reason. Hopefully this will be fixed by a firmware update somewhere down the road.

Conclusions:

Overall I really enjoyed the e71; It fits nicely in your hand and is fast and easy to use. It’s a nice phone to hold.

It feels very well made and is solid. I love the metal body. There is a huge list of features; besides the usual (dual band HSDPA, WiFi, BT, memory card) it also has some less common ones like Active Notes, translator, encryption, talking phone, ability to create office documents, SIP, VPN, among others.

Still it has some shortcomings; the camera is pretty awful, the RF can be wonky at times, no 3.5mm headphone jack (just a 2.5mm) and sometimes the browser closes when it’s in the background.

Howard Chui
11.12.2008

Entry Filed under: Latest Phones,Phones,Reviews

15 Comments Add your own

    John  |  November 13th, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    how come it says fido? I thought they were not getting it…

    Howard  |  November 13th, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    It’s an unlocked e71 that I used on Fido. It’s not from Fido.

    WOM World / Nokia »&hellip  |  November 14th, 2008 at 4:41 am

    [...] of Howard Forums Howard Chui has had his hands on an E71 and the overall sentiment of his review is positive towards the [...]

    HowardChui.com: Batteries&hellip  |  November 17th, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    [...] It’s coming. check out my review for it here. [...]

    Dashwire ready - HOT Phon&hellip  |  November 19th, 2008 at 2:18 am

    [...] Couple of good keyboard comparison photos here [...]

    Apple Otaku  |  November 20th, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    Is the screen made out of glass?

    ricardo hirata  |  December 5th, 2008 at 10:32 am

    thanks for your review.
    If anybody finds a solution for the japanese or chinese characters (multilanguage support fonts or so), please advice me.

    thanks.

    segun  |  December 6th, 2008 at 10:48 am

    hi,
    I can access my messages, e-mail and gallery on my e71 again, it will always show they are alreay in use like, messaging already in use, please how do i resolve this,

    Thanks a mill.

    Sarah  |  December 16th, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    Is there a way I could insert accents in my messages and other text documents on the E71?

    Like á,è,í,ñ,ç ? Please help. I’ve gone thru the manual and can’t find anything on that.

    Nokia E71 « Stochas&hellip  |  January 26th, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    [...] on speaker, at least when I’m on my own) is wonderfully loud and clear. And apparently a lot of people like the phone [...]

    Nokia Phones in India  |  March 14th, 2009 at 3:20 am

    The Nokia E71 has its QWERTY keyboard. Very nice. But if you have thick fingers you won’t be able to use it very well. Other than that everything works very well. E-mail, GPS (works good), you name it. Most S60 applications which work on Nokia E61, Nokia E90, or Nokia N95 also work on Nokia E71.
    Nokia E66 is cheaper and has also good features almost completely on par with Nokia E71. Its camera is worse than Nokia E71 but the Nokia E71 isn’t good either. Nokia E90 is basically a Nokia Communicator with Symbian, and a clamshell instead of a candybar, but also more expensive than Nokia E71.
    The battery in Nokia E71 (BP-4L) is the same as the battery used in Nokia N810. The battery used in Nokia N800 (BP-5L) is used in various Nokia devices.
    I believe a Nokia E71 (for serious work / business) together with a Nokia N800 or Nokia N810 (for multimedia and playing) are a good combination. Its what I’ve been using past months. My 2 devices have the same battery so I can replace one with another if I’m in Serious Trouble. I use Nokia E71 GPS on my Nokia N810 and this works very good. What I miss is a good camera. Sure, it might be even better to combine all-in-one… but that is IMO not possible yet…
    Where I wrote Nokia E66 I meant Nokia E63. This is a recent, cheaper version of the Nokia E71 but very much like it. Compare, might save you some bucks. It even saves a few problems with the hardware keyboard (IMO).

    abdul  |  October 24th, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    please i just wont to the price of the nokia e71 thanks

    abdula  |  October 24th, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    PLEAS I JUST TO KNOW THE PRICE OF THE PHONE
    THANK

    abdula  |  October 24th, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    JUST TO KNOW THE PRICE OF E71 NOKIA THANKS

    abdul is a stoopid  |  February 6th, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Abdullah – get a gun and shoot yourself.

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